“When my best friend told me about her participation in the Boulder Tattoo Project, I, too, wanted to be a part of this living, breathing work of art. Although I missed the first round of volunteers, I was able to get on the waitlist. It was truly Divine Intervention that I was in the right place at the right time and that the phrase I chose was available. Everyone who knows me and has seen my tattoo says it couldn’t have been more perfect for me; ‘it was meant to be.’ Aside from the fact that my farmland is my suburban Boulder backyard, ‘the “agrarian worker”‘ describes my life’s work to a tee. In conjunction with my gifts as a practicing Reiki Master and Intuitive Healer, I work with the Earth to cultivate and harvest over a hundred plants and herbs to heal myself, my family, and others. Placing this tattoo above my heart is a beautiful and constant reminder of my purpose in this life. Thank you to all who contributed to this tangible motivation on my journey.”
“When I heard about this project, it seemed like the perfect way to get my first tattoo. I was never able to justify getting one just for myself. I hadn’t found the right image or the reason behind one, at least not enough to make it permanent. But to become a part of a piece of art… that was so much more appealing.
Then to find a word…
Someone else’s word to be put onto my body…
Of course, I was late to the game of picking and choosing, so the words were all the more obscure to me by then. Perfect for some it seems, but not for me. Then there was one little word, ‘and,’ that showed up a few days after I first looked. Someone had taken it, then given it back.
It is such a small word, but the idea behind it is a big part of my life. The sense of ‘what else’ or ‘what more’ that it holds is often revisited in my internal dialogue. Whether I am stuck on something troubling or depressing, or something that is joyful and inspiring, there will always be something more after. There will always be an ‘and’ to move towards. More life to add to my own, no matter how low or high it gets.
Now on my body, it’s my word and…”
“Why Did I Do This? I have my own list of reasons why I chose to do this (10 of them, actually). I am honored to be a part of this out-of-the-box ‘movement’ that’s connecting perfect strangers in an innovative way in our quirky town. This project is steeped in creative expression and community-connections. I get to embody a portion of a collective art piece and am part of something larger in a beautiful, veiled, meaningful way.
How did I hear about it? I first heard of the project on Facebook from Chelsea Locheart (former Naropa student; I was honored to witness her oldest baby’s first breaths). It was a few weeks before I was getting married to the love of my life. With no time to spare, I thought, ‘That would be cool, if I had time.’ [Fast-forward the best two weeks of my life.] Then it was our first week of marriage, the floods hit, spaces opened up in the project, and I had time. I followed my heart and made the leap.
What does it mean to me? My tattoo is gaining layers of meaning for me (of course, if you know me). Some include:
• The three Stars represent my Beloved Family Triad
• The location has had a lot of healing, as well as a history of a lot of pain, discovered after my motorcycle accident (inevitable surgery/fusion in my future). At the close of the project, I will be adding to the tattoo and infusing that area with another word that invites healing to my spine/joints parts
• The phrase ‘in these parts’ is a folksy phrase (and I hear it’s a line from Shakespeare’s ‘Henry V’) that for me conjures up connected phrases: parts of a whole, parts that need, parts that exceed, alive and well in these parts, spare parts. During my years of chronic joint pain, I often referred to my joints as my faulty parts, although I have also worked hard to reclaim them as my working parts; in these parts, my scars give me character and strength. Then I happened across the song ‘In These Parts’ by the Hot Buttered Rum String Band (had never heard or seen them before). The day I needed to decide about taking my phrase, I saw the band’s name on a bumper sticker. I knew I was being called to this project and finalized my commitment. So ‘in these parts’ it is… and forever will be.
Since getting my (beloved!) tattoo, I share about BTP and about my story, I have met amazing new folks, I hear others stories, I have reconnected with fellow Boulderites I haven’t been in touch with in a decade or more… Boulder, now a community linked in Ink.
I am so grateful for this project, for this opportunity to be involved with something so very Boulder, something so very creative and something so very meaningful.
“Part the First: The History
Got my first tattoo as a 30th-Birthday gift to myself and because I thought I was old enough not to be scolded by my mother for doing so (I was wrong!). On the evening of the tattooing, someone said to me in a somewhat disparaging manner, ‘Well, I hope you’re still happy with that when your 40th birthday comes along!’
And I was. So I got another one!
The next two were tattoos of choice, not decade—but each one close enough (for rock ‘n roll) to count as those markers as well.
Part the Second: The Consideration
In 2008, my husband was considering applying to Naropa University, which would mean relocating from New Jersey to Boulder. I had long been interested in spending a week at Naropa’s Summer Writing Program. So, as the ‘scouting party,’ I did so in 2008 and, of course, I fell in love with Boulder, Naropa, and Anne Waldman in one fell swoop! I went home to New Jersey and pretty much said ‘Mail the application!’
Part the Third: The Move
We arrived in Boulder in the summer of 2010. Hank began grad school at Naropa at the end of August, and in October, I also found a job (the job of my dreams, as it turns out!) as the Events Coordinator in Naropa’s Office of Admissions, so we became a little Naropa family. Somewhere along the way, I picked up an art book of text tattoos and became very interested in having one—I just didn’t know what it was supposed to say. I have been considering snippets of poetry and great words, along with possible body parts/locations, for quite some time now, but the actual tattoo was reluctant to reveal itself.
Part the Last: The Project!
Now in Boulder for a little more than three years and still pondering the text tattoo, I began getting itchy to have a Colorado tattoo added to my collection. But what should it be, what should it be? And then in September, I picked up an issue of Boulder Magazine and found the article about the Boulder Tattoo Project. What, a tattoo about loving Boulder? The WORDS I’ve been searching for, written by Anne Waldman? All the aspects of my world converged, and I sent an e-mail to Chelsea before I even finished reading the article! I had to be IN!
All of my previous tattoos have a nature theme, so I pored over the poem, marking words and phrases that spoke to me, and seemed to be related to my other ink. When the list of possibilities was published, I got my first choice phrase (equinoctial moon), but I’d have to say that all three phrases I submitted were choices 1a, 1b and 1c—no ambivalence about any of them!
Once I became a part of the project and began talking about it around campus, I discovered there was an entire sub-tribe of Naropeans also involved. Four of us arrived for our tattoo session together; we checked on one another during our tattoo healing phases and encouraged others to join in the project as the list of phrases dwindled down.
I became very attached to the Equinoctial Moon as I created my costume for the launch party at The Laughing Goat. I realized I was thinking about this being as ‘her’ as I worked, and voila! She won first prize!
Still a relative newcomer to Boulder, I am delighted to have this new community—Chelsea and Vinny, and all the other members of the collective poem. Thanks to everyone who helped to create this project.”
“I went to graduate school at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics for the lineage that, because I am a 2013 graduate with an MFA in Writing & Poetics, is now mine. ‘Where poetry thrives,’ is the phrase I have tattooed on my right forearm. I decided to keep the comma to allow the suggestion of the future, of what comes after: a gesture. Writer and Naropa Instructor Bhanu Kapil defines commas as the ‘hooks’ within sentences, something to bring you back, to make you stop, to breathe. When I look down at my arm, I remember to breathe. When I look down at my arm, I hear Anne Waldman’s voice reminding me of community, of poetry, of the archive, and of ‘keeping the world safe for poetry,’ all of which are apertures into a life I discovered at Naropa. When I look down at my arm, I am reminded how deeply poetry is embedded within me, how being a writer is a curse. Elizabeth Willis said, ‘I would like another life I don’t have to write down.’ I see that, too, when I look down at my arm. And how so terrible and so lovely in its happenings, this is the life I have chosen. This tattoo is more than a tattoo: it is a connection, a node, a place on my body I can touch and not feel alone. This tattoo is a reminder that, as Juliana Spahr claimed, there is a connection to everything with lungs. This tattoo is for every deleted line I’ve ever written.
The single star is representative of the self, of the black hole in the self that forms at the end of a collapsing star’s life. This star hovers off to the left of the phrase, hovers off to the left of my own body, like a shadow, like a hologram, like a memory, like holding onto something you have now more than when it was actually happening. The single star, like the body, is an all-encompassing figment.”